The Voice Of Ocean
A cry went through the darkness; and the moon,
Hurrying through storm, gazed with a ghastly face,
Then cloaked herself in scud: the merman race
Of surges ceased; and then th' Aeolian croon
Of the wild siren, Wind, within the shrouds
Sunk to a sigh. The ocean in that place
Seemed listening; haunted, for a moment's space,
By something dread that cried against the clouds.
Mystery and night; and with them fog and rain:
And then that cry again as if the deep
Uttered its loneliness in one dark word:
Her horror of herself; her Titan pain;
Her monsters; and the dead that she must keep,
Has kept, alone, for centuries, unheard.
Meeting And Parting
When from the tower, like some sweet flower,
The bell drops petals of the hour,
That says the world is homing,
My heart puts off its garb of care
And clothes itself in gold and vair,
And hurries forth to meet her there
Within the purple gloaming.
It's Oh! how slow the hours go,
How dull the moments move!
Till soft and clear the bells I hear,
That say, like music, in my ear,
'Go meet the one you love.'
When curved and white, a bugle bright,
The moon blows glamour through the night,
That sets the world a-dreaming,
My heart, where gladness late was guest,
Puts off its joy, as to my breast
At parting her dear form is pressed,
Within the moon's faint gleaming.
It's Oh! how fast the hours passed!
They were not slow enough!
Too soon, too soon, the sinking moon
Says to my soul, like some sad tune,
'Come! part from her you love.'
The joys that touched thee once, be mine!
The sympathies of sky and sea,
The friendships of each rock and pine,
That made thy lonely life, ah me!
In Tempe or in Gargaphie.
Such joy as thou didst feel when first,
On some wild crag, thou stood'st alone
To watch the mountain tempest burst,
With streaming thunder, lightning-sown,
On Latmos or on Pelion.
Thy awe! when, crowned with vastness, Night
And Silence ruled the deep's abyss;
And through dark leaves thou saw'st the white
Breasts of the starry maids who kiss
Pale feet of moony Artemis.
Thy dreams! when, breasting matted weeds
Of Arethusa, thou didst hear
The music of the wind-swept reeds;
And down dim forest-ways drew near
Shy herds of slim Arcadian deer.
Thy wisdom! that knew naught but love
And beauty, with which love is fraught;
The wisdom of the heart-whereof
All noblest passions spring-that thought
As Nature thinks, 'All else is naught.'
Thy hope! wherein To-morrow set
No shadow; hope, that, lacking care
And retrospect, held no regret,
But bloomed in rainbows everywhere,
Filling with gladness all the air.
These were thine all: in all life's moods
Embracing all of happiness:
And when within thy long-loved woods
Didst lay thee down to die-no less
Thy happiness stood by to bless.
There is no joy of earth that thrills
My bosom like the far-off hills!
Th' unchanging hills, that, shadowy,
Beckon our mutability
To follow and to gaze upon
Foundations of the dusk and dawn.
Meseems the very heavens are massed
Upon their shoulders, vague and vast
With all the skyey burden of
The winds and clouds and stars above.
Lo, how they sit before us, seeing
The laws that give all Beauty being!
Behold! to them, when dawn is near,
The nomads of the air appear,
Unfolding crimson camps of day
In brilliant bands; then march away;
And under burning battlements
Of twilight plant their tinted tents.
The truth of olden myths, that brood
By haunted stream and haunted wood,
They see; and feel the happiness
Of old at which we only guess:
The dreams, the ancients loved and knew,
Still as their rocks and trees are true:
Not otherwise than presences
The tempest and the calm to these:
One, shouting on them all the night;
Black-limbed and veined with lambent light;
The other with the ministry
Of all soft things that company
With music an embodied form,
Giving to solitude the charm
Of leaves and waters and the peace
Of bird-begotten melodies
And who at night cloth still confer
With the mild moon, that telleth her
Pale tale of lonely love, until
Wan images of passion fill
The heights with shapes that glimmer by
Clad on with sleep and memory.
There is a scent of roses and spilt wine
Between the moonlight and the laurel coppice;
The marble idol glimmers on its shrine,
White as a star, among a heaven of poppies.
Here all my life lies like a spilth of wine.
There is a mouth of music like a lute,
A nightingale that sigheth to one flower;
Between the falling flower and the fruit,
Where love hath died, the music of an hour.
To sit alone with memory and a rose;
To dwell with shadows of whilom romances;
To make one hour of a year of woes
And walk on starlight, in ethereal trances,
With love's lost face fair as a moon-white rose,
To shape from music and the scent of buds
Love's spirit and its presence of sweet fire,
Between the heart's wild burning and the blood's,
Is part of life and of the soul's desire.
There is a song to silence and the stars,
Between the forest and the temple's arches;
And down the stream of night, like nenuphars,
The tossing fires of the revellers' torches.
Here all my life waits lonely as the stars.
Shall not one hour of all those hours suffice
For resignation God hath given as dower?
Between the summons and the sacrifice
One hour of love, th' eternity of an hour?
The shrine is shattered and the bird is gone;
Dark is the house of music and of bridal;
The stars are stricken and the storm comes on;
Lost in a wreck of roses lies the idol,
Sad as the memory of a joy that's gone.
To dream of perished gladness and a kiss,
Waking the last chord of love's broken lyre,
Between remembering and forgetting, this
Is part of life and of the soul's desire.
She passed the thorn-trees, whose gaunt branches tossed
Their spider-shadows round her; and the breeze,
Beneath the ashen moon, was full of frost,
And mouthed and mumbled to the sickly trees,
Like some starved hag who sees her children freeze.
Dry-eyed she waited by the sycamore.
Some stars made misty blotches in the sky.
And all the wretched willows on the shore
Looked faded as a jaundiced cheek or eye.
She felt their pity and could only sigh.
And then his skiff ground on the river rocks.
Whistling he came into the shadow made
By that dead tree. He kissed her dark brown locks;
And round her form his eager arms were laid.
Passive she stood, her secret unbetrayed.
And then she spoke, while still his greeting kiss
Ached in her hair. She did not dare to lift
Her eyes to his-her anguished eyes to his,
While tears smote crystal in her throat. One rift
Of weakness humored might set all adrift.
Fields over which a path, overwhelmed with burrs
And ragweeds, noisy with the grasshoppers,
Leads,-lost, irresolute as paths the cows
Wear through the woods,-unto a woodshed; then,
With wrecks of windows, to a huddled house,
Where men have murdered men.
A house, whose tottering chimney, clay and rock,
Is seamed and crannied; whose lame door and lock
Are bullet-bored; around which, there and here,
Are sinister stains.-One dreads to look around.-
The place seems thinking of that time of fear
And dares not breathe a sound.
Within is emptiness: The sunlight falls
On faded journals papering the walls;
On advertisement chromos, torn with time,
Around a hearth where wasps and spiders build.-
The house is dead: meseems that night of crime
It, too, was shot and killed.
The Lonely Land
A RIVER binds the lonely land,
A river like a silver band,
To crags and shores of yellow sand.
It is a place where kildees cry,
And endless marshes eastward lie,
Whereon looks down a ghostly sky.
A house stands gray and all alone
Upon a hill, as dim of tone,
And lonely, as a lonely stone.
There are no signs of life about;
No barnyard bustle, cry and shout
Of children who run laughing out.
No crow of cocks, no low of cows,
No sheep-bell tinkling under boughs
Of beech, or song in garth or house.
Only the curlew's mournful call,
Circling the sky at evenfall,
And loon lamenting over all.
A garden, where the sunflower dies
And lily on the pathway lies,
Looks blindly at the blinder skies.
And round the place a lone wind blows,
As when the Autumn grieving goes,
Tattered and dripping, to its close.
And on decaying shrubs and vines
The moon's thin crescent, dwindling shines,
Caught in the claws of sombre pines.
And then a pale girl, like a flower,
Enters the garden: for an hour
She waits beside a wild-rose bower.
There is no other one around;
No sound, except the cricket's sound
And far-off baying of a hound.
There is no fire or candle-light
To flash its message through the night
Of welcome from some casement bright.
Only the moon, that thinly throws
A shadow on the girl and rose,
As to its setting slow it goes.
And when 'tis gone, from shore and stream
There steals a mist, that turns to dream
That place where all things merely seem.
And through the mist there goes a cry,
Not of the earth nor of the sky,
But of the years that have passed by.
And with the cry there comes the rain,
Whispering of all that was in vain
At every door and window-pane.
And she, who waits beside the rose,
Hears, with her heart, a hoof that goes,
Galloping afar to where none knows.
And then she bows her head and weeps…
And suddenly a shadow sweeps
Around, and in its darkening deeps.
The house, the girl, the cliffs and stream
Are gone.— And they, and all things seem
But phantoms, merely, in a dream.
The Haunted House
The shadows sit and stand about its door
Like uninvited guests and poor;
And all the long, hot summer day
The grating locust dins its roundelay
In one old sycamore.
The squirrel leaves upon its rotting roof,
In empty hulls, its tracks;
And in its clapboard cracks
The spider weaves a windy woof;
Its cells the mud-wasp packs.
The she-fox whelps upon its floor;
The owlet roosts above its door;
And where the musty mosses run,
The freckled snake basks in the sun.
The children of what fathers sleep
Beneath these melancholy pines?
The slow slugs crawl among their graves where creep
The doddered poison-vines.
The orchard, near the meadow deep,
Lifts up decrepit arms,
Gray-lichened in a withering heap.
No sap swells up to make it leap
As once in calms and storms;
No blossom lulls its age asleep;
Each breeze brings sad alarms.
Big, bell-round pears and apples, russet-red,
No maiden gathers now;
The worm-bored trunks weep gum, like tears, instead,
From each decaying bough.
The woodlands around it are solitary
And fold it like gaunt hands;
The sunlight is sad and the moonlight is dreary,
And the hum of the country is weary, so weary!
And the bees go by in bands
To other lovelier lands.
The grasses are rotting in walk and in bower;
The lonesomeness,-dank and rank
As a chamber where lies for a lonely hour
An old-man's corpse with many a flower,-
Is hushed and blank.
And even the birds have passed it by,
To sing their songs to a happier sky,
A happier sky and bank.
In its desolate halls are lying,
Gold, blood-red and browned,
Drifted leaves of summer dying;
And the winds, above them sighing,
Turn them round and round,
Make a ghostly sound
As of footsteps failing, flying,
Voices through the chambers crying,
Of the haunted house.
Gazing down in her white shroud,
Shroud of windy cloud,
Comes at night the phantom moon;
Comes and all the shadows soon,
Crowding in the rooms, arouse;
Shadows, ghosts, her rays lead on,
Till beneath the cloud
Like a ghost she's gone,
In her gusty shroud,
O'er the haunted house.
O Dark-Eyed goddess of the marble brow,
Whose look is silence and whose touch is night,
Who walkest lonely through the world, O thou,
Who sittest lonely with Life's blown-out light;
Who in the hollow hours of night's noon
Criest like some lost child;
Whose anguish-fevered eyeballs seek the moon
To cool their pulses wild.
Thou who dost bend to kiss Joy's sister cheek,
Turning its rose to alabaster; yea,
Thou who art terrible and mad and meek,
Why in my heart art thou enshrined to-day?
O Sorrow say, O say!
Now Spring is here and all the world is white,
I will go forth, and where the forest robes
Itself in green, and every hill and height
Crowns its fair head with blossoms, spirit globes
Of hyacinth and crocus dashed with dew,
I will forget my grief,
And thee, O Sorrow, gazing on the blue,
Beneath a last year's leaf,
Of some brief violet the south wind woos,
Or bluet, whence the west wind raked the snow;
The baby eyes of love, the darling hues
Of happiness, that thou canst never know,
O child of pain and woe.
On some hoar upland, sweet with clustered thorns,
Hard by a river's windy white of waves,
I shall sit down with Spring, whose eyes are morns
Of light; whose cheeks the rose of health enslaves,
And so forget thee braiding in her hair
The snowdrop, tipped with green,
The cool-eyed primrose and the trillium fair,
And moony celandine.
Contented so to lie within her arms,
Forgetting all the sear and sad and wan,
Remembering love alone, who o'er earth's storms,
High on the mountains of perpetual dawn,
Leads the glad hours on.
Or in the peace that follows storm, when Even,
Within the west, stands dreaming lone and far,
Clad on with green and silver, and the Heaven
Is brightly brooched with one gold-glittering star.
I will lie down beside some mountain lake,
'Round which the tall pines sigh,
And breathing musk of rain from boughs that shake
Storm balsam from on high,
Make friends of Dream and Contemplation high
And Music, listening to the mocking-bird,
Who through the hush sends its melodious cry,
And so forget a while that other word,
That all loved things must die.
He found the road so long and lone
That he was fain to turn again.
The bird's faint note, the bee's low drone
Seemed to his heart to monotone
The unavailing and the vain,
And dirge the dreams that life had slain.
And for a while he sat him there
Beside the way, and bared his head:
He felt the hot sun on his hair;
And weed-warm odors everywhere
Waked memories, forgot or dead,
Of days when love this way had led
To that old house beside the road
With white board-fence and picket gate,
And garden plot that gleamed and glowed
With color, and that overflowed
With fragrance; where, both soon and late,
She 'mid the flowers used to wait.
Was it the same? or had it changed,
As he and she, with months and years?
How long now had they been estranged?
How far away their lives had ranged,
Since that last meeting, filled with tears,
And boyish hopes and maiden fears!
He closed his eyes, and seemed to see
That parting now: The moon above
The old house and its locust tree;
The moths that glimmered drowsily
From flower to flower, the scent whereof
Seemed portion of that oldtime love.
Her face was lifted, pale and wet;
Her body tense as if with pain:
He stooped, yes, he could see it yet
A moment and their young lips met,
And then. . . There in the lonely lane
He seemed to live it o'er again.
Why had.he gone? 'Twas for her sake.
But what had come of all his toil?
The City, like some monster snake,
Had dragged him down down, half awake,
Crushing him in its grimy coil,
Whence none escapes without a soil.
He was not clean yet. She would read
Failure, vice-written, in his face.
But, haply, now she had no need
Of him, whose life, like some wild weed
Full grown, with evil would replace
The love in her heart's garden-space.
He could not bear to look and see
The question in those virgin eyes.
What answer for that look had he?
He thought it out. It could not be.
He could not live a life of lies.
Better to break all oldtime ties.
And then he rose. The house was near
There where the road turned from the wood.
Whose voice was that he seemed to hear?
Then heart and soul were seized with fear,
And, turning, as if death-pursued,
He fled into the solitude.
The Forest Of Fear
The cut-throat darkness hemmed me 'round:
I waited, helpless in its grasp.
The forest gave no sign or sound:
The wind was dead: no insect's rasp
I heard, nor water's gulp and gasp
Fitting its strength against a stone.
The only sound that there was made
Was my wild heart's that sobbed alone,
Knowing itself to be afraid
Of that vast wood where it had strayed.
I dared not move. There was no star
To indicate where God might be.
Night and his henchmen, without bar,
Had there assumed their empery.
Nothing but prayer was left to me.
Around me seemed to loom the dead
Of ages past, gaunt in the gloom.
And when I heard a stealthy tread
As of one groping from the tomb,
I braced myself to meet my doom.
And then I heard a breathing low
As of a beast that seeks its prey;
And then the footstep, soft and slow,
Approached again from far away.
I held my breath lest it betray
Me to some Death in monstrous guise?
With fang or talon, or a blade
Grasped in a hand of giant size?
Or was't a fiend? And then I prayed,
Who never yet had prayed, for aid.
I closed my eyes. My heart was still.
I did not look. I knew it stood
Glaring upon me all its fill.
When would it strike? The ancient wood
Seemed waiting eager for my blood.
I prayed and prayed. The something there
Stood waiting still a fiend from Hell
Gloating upon my soul's despair?
This was the end, I knew too well;
It pealed within me like a bell.
And then I thought, 'In spite of all,
It is but death. Earth can not go
Further than death, whate'er befall.
With open eyes I'll take the blow,
And face to face now meet my foe.'
'My foe?' Perhaps it was a friend.
What whim put in my heart that thought?
I had no friends. This was the end,
And I would face it: I was caught
In the old gin that sin had wrought.
And then I looked I looked to see
How could it be? serene of eye,
A little Child beneath a tree.
A Child that glimmered starrily;
A Christ-like Child not born to die.
And overhead I saw the night'
Had doffed its cowl of, black, and stood
Revealed in azure and in white,
While all the staring solitude
Looked on the round moon o'er the wood.
I called the Child. It smiling came;
Undid the bonds of my despair,
And led me forth. I said, 'Your name?'
I t smiled and, gazing, answered, 'Prayer.'
And with that word went into air.
Deep In The Forest
I. SPRING ON THE HILLS
Ah, shall I follow, on the hills,
The Spring, as wild wings follow?
Where wild-plum trees make wan the hills,
Crabapple trees the hollow,
Haunts of the bee and swallow?
In redbud brakes and flowery
Acclivities of berry;
In dogwood dingles, showery
With white, where wrens make merry?
Or drifts of swarming cherry?
In valleys of wild strawberries,
And of the clumped May-apple;
Or cloudlike trees of haw-berries,
With which the south winds grapple,
That brook and byway dapple?
With eyes of far forgetfulness,-
Like some wild wood-thing's daughter,
Whose feet are beelike fretfulness,-
To see her run like water
Through boughs that slipped or caught her.
O Spring, to seek, yet find you not!
To search, yet never win you!
To glimpse, to touch, but bind you not!
To lose, and still continue,
All sweet evasion in you!
In pearly, peach-blush distances
You gleam; the woods are braided
Of myths; of dream-existences….
There, where the brook is shaded,
A sudden splendor faded.
O presence, like the primrose's,
Again I feel your power!
With rainy scents of dim roses,
Like some elusive flower,
Who led me for an hour!
II. MOSS AND FERN
Where rise the brakes of bramble there,
Wrapped with the trailing rose;
Through cane where waters ramble, there
Where deep the sword-grass grows,
Perhaps, unseen of eyes of man,
Perhaps the creek, whose pebbles make
A foothold for the mint,
May bear,-where soft its trebles make
Confession,-some vague hint,
Goat-hoofed, of one who lightly ran,)
Where, in the hollow of the hills
Ferns deepen to the knees,
What sounds are those above the hills,
And now among the trees?-
The syrinx, haply, none may scan,
In woods where waters break upon
The hush like some soft word;
Where sun-shot shadows shake upon
The moss, who has not heard-
The flute, as breezy as a fan,
Far in, where mosses lay for us
Still carpets, cool and plush;
Where bloom and branch and ray for us
Sleep, waking with a rush-
But sounds the satyr hoof a span
O woods,-whose thrushes sing to us,
Whose brooks dance sparkling heels;
Whose wild aromas cling to us,-
While here our wonder kneels,
Upon us, brown as bark with tan,
III. THE THORN TREE
The night is sad with silver and the day is glad with gold,
And the woodland silence listens to a legend never old,
Of the Lady of the Fountain, whom the faery people know,
With her limbs of samite whiteness and her hair of golden glow,
Whom the boyish South Wind seeks for and the girlish-stepping Rain;
Whom the sleepy leaves still whisper men shall never see again:
She whose Vivien charms were mistress of the magic Merlin knew,
That could change the dew to glowworms and the glowworms into dew.
There's a thorn tree in the forest, and the faeries know the tree,
With its branches gnarled and wrinkled as a face with sorcery;
But the Maytime brings it clusters of a rainy fragrant white,
Like the bloom-bright brows of beauty or a hand of lifted light.
And all day the silence whispers to the sun-ray of the morn
How the bloom is lovely Vivien and how Merlin is the thorn:
How she won the doting wizard with her naked loveliness
Till he told her daemon secrets that must make his magic less.
How she charmed him and enchanted in the thorn-tree's thorns to lie
Forever with his passion that should never dim or die:
And with wicked laughter looking on this thing which she had done,
Like a visible aroma lingered sparkling in the sun:
How she stooped to kiss the pathos of an elf-lock of his beard,
In a mockery of parting and mock pity of his weird:
But her magic had forgotten that 'who bends to give a kiss
Will but bring the curse upon them of the person whose it is':
So the silence tells the secret.-And at night the faeries see
How the tossing bloom is Vivien, who is struggling to be free,
In the thorny arms of Merlin, who forever is the tree.
IV. THE HAMADRYAD
She stood among the longest ferns
The valley held; and in her hand
One blossom, like the light that burns
Vermilion o'er a sunset land;
And round her hair a twisted band
Of pink-pierced mountain-laurel blooms:
And darker than dark pools, that stand
Below the star-communing glooms,
Her eyes beneath her hair's perfumes.
I saw the moonbeam sandals on
Her flowerlike feet, that seemed too chaste
To tread true gold: and, like the dawn
On splendid peaks that lord a waste
Of solitude lost gods have graced,
Her face: she stood there, faultless-hipped,
Bound as with cestused silver,-chased
With acorn-cup and crown, and tipped
With oak leaves,-whence her chiton slipped.
Limbs that the gods call loveliness!-
The grace and glory of all Greece
Wrought in one marble shape were less
Than her perfection!-'Mid the trees
I saw her-and time seemed to cease
For me.-And, lo! I lived my old
Greek life again of classic ease,
Barbarian as the myths that rolled
Me back into the Age of Gold.
At The Lane's End
No more to strip the roses from
The rose-boughs of her porch's place!
I dreamed last night that I was home
Beside a rose her face.
I must have smiled in sleep who knows?
The rose aroma filled the lane;
I saw her white hand's lifted rose
That called me home again.
And yet when I awoke so wan,
An old face wet with icy tears!
Somehow, it seems, sleep had misdrawn
A love gone thirty years.
The clouds roll up and the clouds roll down
Over the roofs of the little town;
Out in the hills where the pike winds by
Fields of clover and bottoms of rye,
You will hear no sound but the barking cough
Of the striped chipmunk where the lane leads off;
You will hear no bird but the sapsuckers
Far off in the forest, that seems to purr,
As the warm wind fondles its top, grown hot,
Like the docile back of an ocelot:
You will see no thing but the shine and shade
Of briers that climb and of weeds that wade
The glittering creeks of the light, that fills
The dusty road and the red-keel hills
And all day long in the pennyroy'l
The grasshoppers at their anvils toil;
Thick click of their tireless hammers thrum,
And the wheezy belts of their bellows hum;
Tinkers who solder the silence and heat
To make the loneliness more complete.
Around old rails where the blackberries
Are reddening ripe, and the bumble-bees
Are a drowsy rustle of Summer's skirts,
And the bob-white's wing is the fan she flirts.
Under the hill, through the iron weeds,
And ox-eyed daisies and milkweeds, leads
The path forgotten of all but one.
Where elder bushes are sick with sun,
And wild raspberries branch big blue veins
O'er the face of the rock, where the old spring rains
Its sparkling splinters of molten spar
On the gravel bed where the tadpoles are,
You will find the pales of the fallen fence,
And the tangled orchard and vineyard, dense
With the weedy neglect of thirty years.
The garden there, where the soft sky clears
Like an old sweet face that has dried its tears;
The garden plot where the cabbage grew
And the pompous pumpkin; and beans that blew
Balloons of white by the melon patch;
Maize; and tomatoes that seemed to catch
Oblong amber and agate balls
Thrown from the sun in the frosty falls:
Long rows of currants and gooseberries,
And the balsam-gourd with its honey-bees.
And here was a nook for the princess-plumes,
The snap-dragons and the poppy-blooms,
Mother's sweet-williams and pansy flowers,
And the morning-glories' bewildered bowers,
Tipping their cornucopias up
For the humming-birds that came to sup.
And over it all was the Sabbath peace
Of the land whose lap was the love of these;
And the old log-house where my innocence died,
With my boyhood buried side by side.
Shall a man with a face as withered and gray
As the wasp-nest stowed in a loft away,
Where the hornets haunt and the mortar drops
From the loosened logs of the clap-board tops;
Whom vice has aged as the rotting rooms
The rain where memories haunt the glooms;
A hitch in his joints like the rheum that gnats
In the rasping hinge of the door that jars;
A harsh, cracked throat like the old stone flue
Where the swallows build the summer through;
Shall a man, I say, with the spider sins
That the long years spin in the outs and ins
Of his soul returning to see once more
His boyhood's home, where his life was poor
With toil and tears and their fretfulness,
But rich with health and the hopes that bless
The unsoiled wealth of a vigorous youth;
Shall he not take comfort and know the truth
In its threadbare raiment of falsehood? Yea!
In his crumbled past he shall kneel and pray,
Like a pilgrim come to the shrine again
Of the homely saints that shall soothe his pain,
And arise and depart made clean from stain!
Years of care can not erase
Visions of the hills and trees
Closing in the dam and race;
Not the mile-long memories
Of the mill-stream's lovely place.
How the sunsets used to stain
Mirror of the water lying
Under eaves made dark with rain!
Where the red-bird, westward flying,
Lit to try one song again.
Dingles, hills, and woods, and springs,
Where we came in calm and storm,
Swinging in the grape-vine swings,
Wading where the rocks were warm,
With our fishing-nets and strings.
Here the road plunged down the hill,
Under ash and chinquapin,
Where the grasshoppers would drill
Ears of silence with their din,
To the willow-girdled mill.
There the path beyond the ford
Takes the woodside, just below
Shallows that the lilies sword,
Where the scarlet blossoms blow
Of the trumpet-vine and gourd.
Summer winds, that sink with heat,
On the pelted waters winnow
Moony petals that repeat
Crescents, where the startled minnow
Beats a glittering retreat.
Summer winds that bear the scent
Of the iron-weed and mint,
Weary with sweet freight and spent,
On the deeper pools imprint
Stumbling steps in many a dent.
Summer winds, that split the husk
Of the peach and nectarine,
Trail along the amber dusk
Hazy skirts of gray and green,
Spilling balms of dew and musk.
Where with balls of bursting juice
Summer sees the red wild-plum
Strew the gravel; ripened loose,
Autumn hears the pawpaw drum
Plumpness on the rocks that bruise:
There we found the water-beech,
One forgotten August noon,
With a hornet-nest in reach,
Like a fairyland balloon,
Full of bustling fairy speech.
Some invasion sure it was;
For we heard the captains scold;
Waspish cavalry a-buzz,
Troopers uniformed in gold,
Sable-slashed, to charge on us.
Could I find the sedgy angle,
Where the dragon-flies would turn
Slender flittings into spangle
On the sunlight? or would burn
Where the berries made a tangle
Sparkling green and brassy blue;
Rendezvousing, by the stream,
Bands of elf-banditti, who,
Brigands of the bloom and beam,
Drunken were with honey-dew.
Could I find the pond that lay
Where vermilion blossoms showered
Fragrance down the daisied way?
That the sassafras embowered
With the spice of early May?
Could I find it did I seek
The old mill? Its weather-beaten
Wheel and gable by the creek?
With its warping roof; worm-eaten,
Dusty rafters worn and weak.
Where old shadows haunt old places,
Loft and hopper, stair and bin;
Ghostly with the dust that laces
Webs that usher phantoms in,
Wistful with remembered faces.
While the frogs' grave litanies
Drowse in far-off antiphone,
Supplicating, till the eyes
Of dead friendships, long alone
In the dusky corners, rise.
Moonrays or the splintered slip
Of a star? within the darkling
Twilight, where the fire-flies dip
As if Night a myriad sparkling
Jewels from her hands let slip:
While again some farm-boy crosses,
With a corn-sack for the meal,
O'er the creek, through ferns and mosses
Sprinkled by the old mill-wheel,
Where the water drips and tosses.
The North Shore
September On Cape Ann
The partridge-berry flecks with flame the way
That leads to ferny hollows where the bee
Drones on the aster. Far away the sea
Points its deep sapphire with a gleam of grey.
Here from this height where, clustered sweet, the bay
Clumps a green couch, the haw and barberry
Beading her hair, sad Summer, seemingly,
Has fallen asleep, unmindful of the day.
The chipmunk barks upon the old stone wall;
And in the shadows, like a shadow, stirs
The woodchuck where the boneset's blossom creams.
Was that a phoebe with its pensive call?
A sighing wind that shook the drowsy firs?
Or only Summer waking from her dreams?
In An Annisquam Garden
Old phantoms haunt it of the long ago;
Old ghosts of old-time lovers and of dreams:
Within the quiet sunlight there, meseems,
I see them walking where those lilies blow.
The hardy phlox sways to some garment's flow;
The salvia there with sudden scarlet streams,
Caught from some ribbon of some throat that gleams,
Petunia-fair, in flounce and furbelow.
I seem to hear their whispers in each wind
That wanders mid the flowers. There they stand!
Among the shadows of that apple-tree!
They are not dead, whom still it keeps in mind,
This garden, planted by some lovely hand
That keeps it fragrant with its memory.
I saw the spirit of the pines that spoke
With spirits of the ocean and the storm:
Against the tumult rose its tattered form,
Wild rain and darkness round it like a cloak.
Fearful it stood, limbed like some twisted oak,
Gesticulating with one giant arm,
Raised as in protest of the night's alarm,
Defiant still of some impending stroke.
Below it, awful in its majesty,
The spirit of the deep, with rushing locks,
Raved: and above it, lightning-clad and shod,
Thundered the tempest. Thus they stood, the three;
Terror around them; while, upon the rocks,
Destruction danced, mocking at man and God.
Night And Storm At Gloucester
I heard the wind last night that cried and wept
Like some old skipper's ghost outside my door;
And on the roof the rain that tramped and tore
Like feet of seamen on a deck storm-swept.
Against the pane the Night with shudderings crept,
And crouched there wailing; moaning ever more
Its tale of terror; of the wrath on shore,
The rage at sea, bidding all wake who slept.
And then I heard a voice as old as Time;
The calling of the mother of the world,
Ocean, who thundered on her granite crags,
Foaming with fury, meditating crime.
And then, far off, wild minute guns; and, hurled
Through roaring surf, the rush of sails in rags.
The Voice Of Ocean
A cry went through the darkness; and the moon,
Hurrying through storm, gazed with a ghastly face,
Then cloaked herself in scud: the merman race
Of surges ceased; and then th' Æolian croon
Of the wild siren, Wind, within the shrouds
Sunk to a sigh. The ocean in that place
Seemed listening; haunted, for a moment's space,
By something dread that cried against the clouds.
Mystery and night; and with them fog and rain:
And then that cry again as if the deep
Uttered its loneliness in one dark word:
Her horror of herself; her Titan pain;
Her monsters; and the dead that she must keep,
Has kept, alone, for centuries, unheard.
I saw the daughters of the ocean dance
With wind and tide, and heard them on the rocks:
White hands they waved me, tossing sunlit locks,
Green as the light an emerald holds in trance.
Their music bound me as with necromance
Of mermaid beauty, that for ever mocks,
And lured me as destruction lures wild flocks
Of light-led gulls and storm-tossed cormorants.
Nearer my feet they crept: I felt their lips:
Their hands of foam that caught at me, to press,
As once they pressed Leander: and, straightway,
I saw the monster-ending of their hips;
The cruelty hid in their soft caress;
The siren-passion ever more to slay.
A Bit Of Coast
One tree, storm-twisted, like an evil hag,
The sea-wind in its hair, beside a path
Waves frantic arms, as if in wild-witch wrath
At all the world. Gigantic, grey as slag,
Great boulders shoulder through the hills, or crag
The coast with danger, monster-like, that lifts
Huge granite, round which wheel the gulls and swifts,
And at whose base the rotting sea-weeds drag.
Inward the hills are wooded; valley-cleft;
Tangled with berries; vistaed dark with pines;
At whose far end, as 'twere within a frame,
Some trail of water that the ocean left
Gleams like a painting where one white sail shines,
Lit with the sunset's poppy-coloured flame.
Autumn At Annisquam
The bitter-sweet and red-haw in her hands,
And in her hair pale berries of the bay,
She haunts the coves and every Cape Ann way,
The Indian, Autumn, wandered from her bands.
Beside the sea, upon a rock, she stands,
And looks across the foam, and straight the grey
Takes on a sunset tone, and all the day
Murmurs with music of forgotten lands.
Now in the woods, knee-deep among the ferns,
She walks and smiles and listens to the pines,
The sweetheart pines, that kiss and kiss again,
Whispering their love: and now she frowns and turns
And in the west the fog in ragged lines
Rears the wild wigwams of the tribes of rain.
Against the pane the darkness, wet and cold,
Pressed a wild face and raised a ragged arm
Of cloud, clothed on with thunder and alarm
And terrible with elemental gold.
Above the fisher's hut, beyond the wold,
The wind, a Salem witch, rushed shrieking harm,
And swept her mad broom over every farm
To devil-revels in some forest old.
Hell and its-hags, it seemed, held court again
On every rock, trailing a tattered gown
Of surf, and whirling, screaming, to the sea
Elf-locks, fantastic, of dishevelled rain;
While in their midst death hobbled up and down
Monstrous and black, with diabolic glee.
Night and the sea, and heaven overhead
Cloudless and vast, as 'twere of hollowed spar,
Wherein the facets gleamed of many a star,
And the half-moon a crystal radiance shed.
Then suddenly, with burning banners spread,
In pale celestial armour, as for war,
Into the heaven, flaming from afar,
The Northern Lights their phalanxed splendours led.
Night, for the moment, seemed to catch her breath,
And earth gazed, silent with astonishment,
As spear on spear the auroral armies came;
As when, triumphant over hell and death,
The victor angels thronged God's firmament
With sword on sword and burning oriflamme.
Far as the eye can see the land is grey,
And desolation sits among the stones
Looking on ruin who, from rocks like bones,
Stares with a dead face at the dying day.
Mounds, where the barberry and bay hold sway,
Show where homes rose once; where the village crones
Gossiped, and man, with many sighs and groans,
Laboured and loved and went its daily way.
Only the crow now, like a hag returned,
Croaks on the common that its hoarse voice mocks.
Meseems that here the sorrow of the earth
Has lost herself, and, with the past concerned,
Sits with the ghosts of dreams that haunt these rocks,
And old despairs to which man's soul gave birth.
An Abandoned Quarry
The barberry burns, the rose-hip crimsons warm,
And haw and sumach hedge the hill with fire,
Down which the road winds, worn of hoof and tire,
Only the blueberry-picker plods now from the farm.
Here once the quarry-driver, brown of arm,
Wielded the whip when, deep in mud and mire,
The axle strained, and earned his daily hire,
Labouring bareheaded in both sun and storm.
Wild-cherry now and blackberry and bay
Usurp the place: the wild-rose, undisturbed,
Riots, where once the workman earned his wage,
Whose old hands rest now, like this granite grey,
These rocks, whose stubborn will whilom he curbed,
Hard as the toil that was his heritage.
A Pool Among The Rocks
I know a pool, whose crystalline repose
Sleeps under walls of granite, whence the pine
Leans looking at its image, line for line
Repeated with the sumach and wild-rose
That redden on the rocks; where, at day's close,
The sunset dreams, and lights incarnadine
Dark waters and the place seems brimmed with wine,
A giant cup that splendour overflows.
Night, in her livery of stars and moon,
Stoops to its mirror, gazing steadily;
And, saddened by her beauty, drops one tear,
A falling star; while round it sighs the rune
Of winds, conspirators that sweep from sea,
Whispering of things that fill the heart with fear.
High On A Hill
There is a place among the Cape Ann hills
That looks from fir-dark summits on the sea,
Whose surging sapphire changes constantly
Beneath deep heavens, Morning windowsills,
With golden calm, or sunset citadels
With storm, whose towers the winds' confederacy
And bandit thunder hold in rebel fee,
Swooping upon the ilsher's sail that swells.
A place, where Sorrow ceases to complain,
And life's old Cares put all their burdens by,
And Weariness forgets itself in rest.
Would that all life were like it; might obtain
Its pure repose, its outlook, strong and high,
That sees, beyond, far Islands of the Blest.
An Ode - In Commemoration Of The Founding, Of The Massachusetts Bay Colony In The Year 1623.
They who maintained their rights,
Through storm and stress,
And walked in all the ways
That God made known,
Led by no wandering lights,
And by no guess,
Through dark and desolate days
Of trial and moan:
Here let their monument
Rise, like a word
In rock commemorative
Of our Land's youth;
Of ways the Puritan went,
With soul love-spurred
To suffer, die, and live
For faith and truth.
Here they the corner-stone
Of Freedom laid;
Here in their hearts' distress
They lit the lights
Of Liberty alone;
Here, with God's aid,
Conquered the wilderness,
Secured their rights.
Not men, but giants, they,
Who wrought with toil
And sweat of brawn and brain
Their freehold here;
Who, with their blood, each day
Hallowed the soil,
And left it without stain
And without fear.
Yea; here, from men like these,
Our country had its stanch beginning;
Hence sprang she with the ocean breeze
And pine scent in her hair;
Deep in her eyes the winning,
The far-off winning of the unmeasured West;
And in her heart the care,
The young unrest,
Of all that she must dare,
Ere as a mighty Nation she should stand
Towering from sea to sea,
From land to moantained land,
One with the imperishable beauty of the stars
In absolute destiny;
Part of that cosmic law, no shadow mars,
To which all freedom runs,
That wheels the circles of the worlds and suns
Along their courses through the vasty night,
Irrevocable and eternal as is Light.
What people has to-day
Such faith as launched and sped,
With psalm and prayer, the Mayflower on its way?
Such faith as led
The Dorchester fishers to this sea-washed point,
This granite headland of Cape Ann?
Where first they made their bed,
Salt-blown and wet with brine,
In cold and hunger, where the storm-wrenched pine
Clung to the rock with desperate footing. They,
With hearts courageous whom hope did anoint,
Despite their tar and tan,
Worn of the wind and spray,
Seem more to me than man,
With their unconquerable spirits. Mountains may
Succumb to men like these, to wills like theirs,
The Puritan's tenacity to do;
The stubbornness of genius; holding to
Their purpose to the end,
No New-World hardship could deflect or bend;
That never doubted in their worst despairs,
But steadily on their way
Held to the last, trusting in God, who filled
Their souls with fire of faith that helped them build
A country, greater than had ever thrilled
Man's wildest dreams, or entered in
His highest hopes. 'Twas thins that helped them win
In spite of danger and distress,
Through darkness and the din
Of winds and waves, unto a wilderness,
Savage, unbounded, pathless as the sea,
That said, 'Behold me! I am free!'
Giving itself to them for greater things
Than filled their souls with dim imaginings.
Let History record their stalwart names,
And catalogue their fortitude, whence grew,
Swiftly as running flames,
Cities and civilazation:
How from a meeting-house and school,
A few log-huddled cabins, Freedom drew
Her rude beginnings. Every pioneer station,
Each settlemeat, though primitive of tool,
Had in it then the making of a Nation;
Had in it then the roofing of the plains
With tragic; and the piercing through and through
Of forests with the iron veins
Would I could make you see
How these, laboriously,
These founders of New England, every hour
Faced danger, death, and misery,
Conquering the wilderness;
With supernatural power
Changing its features; all its savage glower
Of wild barbarity, fierce hate, duress,
To something human, something that could bless
Mankind with peace and lift its heart's elation;
Something at last that stood
For universal brotherhood,
Astonishing the world, a mighty Nation,
Hewn from the solitude.
Iron of purpose as of faith and daring,
And of indomitable will,
With axe and hymn-book still I see them faring,
The Saxon Spirit of Conquest at their side
With sword and flintlock; still I see them stride,
As to some Roundhead rhyme,
Adown the aisles of Time.
Can praise be simply said of such as these?
Such men as Standish, Winthrop, Endicott?
Such souls as Roger Conant and John White?
Rugged and great as trees,
The oaks of that New World with which their lot
Was cast forever, proudly to remain.
That world in which each name still stands, a light
To beacon the Ship of State through stormy seas.
Can praise be simply said
Of him, the younger Vane,
Puritan and patriot,
Whose dedicated head
Was laid upon the block
In thy name, Liberty!
Can praise be simply said of such as he!
Needs must the soul unlock
All gates of eloquence to sing of these.
Such epic melodies,
As holds the utterance of the earlier gods,
The lords of song, one needs
To sing the praise of these!
No feeble music, tinklings frail of glass;
No penny trumpetings; twitterings of brass,
The moment's effort, shak'n from pigmy bells,
Ephemeral drops from small Pierian wells,
With which the Age relieves a barren hour.
But such large music, such melodious power,
As have our cataracts,
Pouring the iron facts,
The giant acts
Of these: such song as have our rock-ridged deep
And mountain steeps,
When winds, like clanging eagles, sweep the storm
On tossing wood and farm:
Such eloquence as in the torrent leaps,
Where the hoarse canyon sleeps,
Holding the heart with its terrific charm,
Carrying its roaring message to the town,
To voice their high achievement and renown.
Long, long ago, beneath heaven's stormy slope,
In deeds of faith and hope,
Our fathers laid Freedom's foundations here,
And raised, invisible, vast,
Embodying naught of doubt or fear,
A monument whose greatness shall outlast
The future, as the past,
Of all the Old World's dynasties and kings.
A symbol of all things
That we would speak, but cannot say in words,
Of those who first began our Nation here,
Behold, we now would rear!
A different monument! a thought, that girds
Itself with granite; dream made visible
In rock and bronze to tell
To all the Future what here once befell;
Here where, unknown to them,
A tree took root; a tree of wondrous stem;
The tree of high ideals, which has grown,
And has not withered since its seed was sown,
Was planted here by them in this new soil,
Who watered it with tears and blood and toil:
An heritage we mean to hold,
Keeping it stanch and beautiful as of old.
For never a State,
Or People, yet was great
Without its great ideals; branch and root
Of the deep tree of life where bud and blow
The dreams, the thoughts, that grow
To deeds, the glowing fruit.
The morn, that breaks its heart of gold
Above the purple hills;
The eve, that spills
Its nautilus splendor where the sea is rolled;
The night, that leads the vast procession in
Of stars and dreams,
The beauty that shall never die or pass:
The winds, that spin
Of rain the misty mantles of the grass,
And thunder-raiment of the mountain-streams;
The sunbeams, needling with gold the dusk
Green cowls of ancient woods;
The shadows, thridding, veiled with musk,
The moon-pathed solitudes,
Call to my Fancy, saying, 'Follow! follow!'
Till, following, I see,
Fair as a cascade in a rainbowed hollow,
A dream, a shape, take form,
Clad on with every charm,
The vision of that Ideality,
Which lured the pioneer in wood and hill,
And beckoned him from earth and sky;
The dream that cannot die,
Their children's children did fulfill,
In stone and iron and wood,
Out of the solitude,
And by a forthright act
Create a mighty fact
A Nation, now that stands
Clad on with hope and beauty, strength and song,
Eternal, young, and strong,
Planting her heel on Wrong,
Her starry banner in triumphant hands....
Within her face the rose
Of Alleghany dawns;
Limbed with Alaskan snows,
Floridian starlight in her eyes,
Eyes stern as steel yet tender as a fawn's,
And in her hair
The rapture of her river; and the dare,
As perishless as truth,
That o'er the crags of her Sierras flies,
Urging the eagle ardor through her veins,
Behold her where,
Around her radiant youth,
The spirits of the cataracts and plains,
The genii of the floods and forests, meet,
In rainbow mists circling her brow and feet:
The forces vast that sit
In session round her; powers paraclete,
That guard her presence; awful forms and fair,
Making secure her place;
Guiding her surely as the worlds through space
Do laws sidereal; edicts, thunder-lit,
Of skyed eternity, in splendor borne
On planetary wings of night and morn.
Behold her! this is she!
Beautiful as morning on the summer sea,
Yet terrible as is the elemental gold
That cleaves the tempest and in angles clings
About its cloudy temples. Manifold
The dreams of daring in her fearless gaze,
Fixed on the future's days;
And round her brow, a strand of astral beads,
Her soul's resplendent deeds;
And at her front one star,
Like that on morning's slope,
Beaconing the world afar.
From her high place she sees
Her long procession of accomplished acts,
Of thoughts in steel and stone, of marble dreams,
Lift up tremendous battlements,
Sun-blinding, built of facts;
While in her soul she seems,
Listening, to hear, as from innumerable tents,
Æonian thunder, wonder, and applause
Of all the heroic ages that are gone;
That, as her Past, her Future shall endure,
As did her Cause
When redly broke the dawn
Of fierce rebellion, and, beneath its star,
The firmaments of war
Poured down infernal rain,
And North and South lay bleeding 'mid their slain.
And now, no less, shall her Cause still prevail,
More so in peace than war,
Through the thrilled wire and electric rail,
Carrying her message far;
Shaping her dream
Within the brain of steam,
That, with a myriad hands,
Labors unceasingly, and knits her lands
In firmer union; joining plain and stream
With steel; and binding shore to shore
With bands of iron; nerves and arteries,
Along whose adamant forever pour
Her concrete thoughts, her tireless energies.
Intimations Of The Beautiful
The hills are full of prophecies
And ancient voices of the dead;
Of hidden shapes that no man sees,
Pale, visionary presences,
That speak the things no tongue hath said,
No mind hath thought, no eye hath read.
The streams are full of oracles,
And momentary whisperings;
An immaterial beauty swells
Its breezy silver o'er the shells
With wordless speech that sings and sings
The message of diviner things.
No indeterminable thought is theirs,
The stars', the sunsets' and the flowers';
Whose inexpressible speech declares
Th' immortal Beautiful, who shares
This mortal riddle which is ours,
Beyond the forward-flying hours.
It holds and beckons in the streams;
It lures and touches us in all
The flowers of the golden fall-
The mystic essence of our dreams:
A nymph blows bubbling music where
Faint water ripples down the rocks;
A faun goes dancing hoiden locks,
And piping a Pandean air,
Through trees the instant wind shakes bare.
Our dreams are never otherwise
Than real when they hold us so;
We in some future life shall know
Them parts of it and recognize
Them as ideal substance, whence
The actual is-(as flowers and trees,
From color sources no one sees,
Draw dyes, the substance of a sense)-
Material with intelligence.
What intimations made them wise,
The mournful pine, the pleasant beech?
What strange and esoteric speech?-
(Communicated from the skies
In runic whispers)-that invokes
The boles that sleep within the seeds,
And out of narrow darkness leads
The vast assemblies of the oaks.
Within his knowledge, what one reads
The poems written by the flowers?
The sermons, past all speech of ours,
Preached by the gospel of the weeds?-
O eloquence of coloring!
O thoughts of syllabled perfume!
O beauty uttered into bloom!
Teach me your language! let me sing!
Along my mind flies suddenly
A wildwood thought that will not die;
That makes me brother to the bee,
And cousin to the butterfly:
A thought, such as gives perfume to
The blushes of the bramble-rose,
And, fixed in quivering crystal, glows
A captive in the prismed dew.
It leads the feet no certain way;
No frequent path of human feet:
Its wild eyes follow me all day;
All day I hear its wild heart beat:
And in the night it sings and sighs
The songs the winds and waters love;
Its wild heart lying tranced above,
And tranced the wildness of its eyes.
Oh, joy, to walk the way that goes
Through woods of sweet-gum and of beech!
Where, like a ruby left in reach,
The berry of the dogwood glows:
Or where the bristling hillsides mass,
'Twixt belts of tawny sassafras,
Brown shocks of corn in wigwam rows!
Where, in the hazy morning, runs
The stony branch that pools and drips,
The red-haws and the wild-rose hips
Are strewn like pebbles; and the sun's
Own gold seems captured by the weeds;
To see, through scintillating seeds,
The hunters steal with glimmering guns!
Oh, joy, to go the path which lies
Through woodlands where the trees are tall!
Beneath the misty moon of fall,
Whose ghostly girdle prophesies
A morn wind-swept and gray with rain;
When, o'er the lonely, leaf-blown lane,
The night-hawk like a dead leaf flies!
To stand within the dewy ring
Where pale death smites the boneset blooms,
And everlasting's flowers, and plumes
Of mint, with aromatic wing!
And hear the creek,-whose sobbing seems
A wild-man murmuring in his dreams,-
And insect violins that sing.
Or where the dim persimmon tree
Rains on the path its frosty fruit,
And in the oak the owl doth hoot,
Beneath the moon and mist, to see
The outcast Year go,-Hagar-wise,-
With far-off, melancholy eyes,
And lips that sigh for sympathy.
Towards evening, where the sweet-gum flung
Its thorny balls among the weeds,
And where the milkweed's sleepy seeds,-
A faery Feast of Lanterns,-swung;
The cricket tuned a plaintive lyre,
And o'er the hills the sunset hung
A purple parchment scrawled with fire.
From silver-blue to amethyst
The shadows deepened in the vale;
And belt by belt the pearly-pale
Aladdin fabric of the mist
Built up its exhalation far;
A jewel on an Afrit's wrist,
One star gemmed sunset's cinnabar.
Then night drew near, as when, alone,
The heart and soul grow intimate;
And on the hills the twilight sate
With shadows, whose wild robes were sown
With dreams and whispers;-dreams, that led
The heart once with love's monotone,
And memories of the living-dead.
All night the rain-gusts shook the leaves
Around my window; and the blast
Rumbled the flickering flue, and fast
The storm streamed from the dripping eaves.
As if-'neath skies gone mad with fear-
The witches' Sabboth galloped past,
The forests leapt like startled deer.
All night I heard the sweeping sleet;
And when the morning came, as slow
As wan affliction, with the woe
Of all the world dragged at her feet,
No spear of purple shattered through
The dark gray of the east; no bow
Of gold shot arrows swift and blue.
But rain, that whipped the windows; filled
The spouts with rushings; and around
The garden stamped, and sowed the ground
With limbs and leaves; the wood-pool filled
With overgurgling.-Bleak and cold
The fields looked, where the footpath wound
Through teasel and bur-marigold.
Yet there's a kindness in such days
Of gloom, that doth console regret
With sympathy of tears, which wet
Old eyes that watch the back-log blaze.-
A kindness, alien to the deep
Glad blue of sunny days that let
No thought in of the lives that weep.
This dawn, through which the Autumn glowers,-
As might a face within our sleep,
With stone-gray eyes that weep and weep,
And wet brows bound with sodden flowers,-
Is sunset to some sister land;
A land of ruins and of palms;
Rich sunset, crimson with long calms,-
Whose burning belt low mountains bar,-
That sees some brown Rebecca stand
Beside a well the camel-band
Winds down to 'neath the evening star.
O sunset, sister to this dawn!
O dawn, whose face is turned away!
Who gazest not upon this day,
But back upon the day that's gone!
Enamored so of loveliness,
The retrospect of what thou wast,
Oh, to thyself the present trust!
And as thy past be beautiful
With hues, that never can grow less!
Waiting thy pleasure to express
New beauty lest the world grow dull.
Down in the woods a sorcerer,
Out of rank rain and death, distills,-
Through chill alembics of the air,-
Aromas that brood everywhere
Among the whisper-haunted hills:
The bitter myrrh of dead leaves fills
Wet valleys (where the gaunt weeds bleach)
With rainy scents of wood-decay;-
As if a spirit all the day
Sat breathing softly 'neath the beech.
With other eyes I see her flit,
The wood-witch of the wild perfumes,
Among her elfin owls,-that sit,
A drowsy white, in crescent-lit
Dim glens of opalescent glooms:-
Where, for her magic, buds and blooms
Mysterious perfumes, while she stands,
A thornlike shadow, summoning
The sleepy odors, that take wing
Like bubbles from her dewy hands.
Among the woods they call to me-
The lights that haunt the wood and stream;
Voices of such white ecstasy
As moves with hushed lips through a dream:
They stand in auraed radiances,
Or flash with nimbused limbs across
Their golden shadows on the moss,
Or slip in silver through the trees.
What love can give the heart in me
More hope and exaltation than
The hand of light that tips the tree
And beckons far from marts of man?
That reaches foamy fingers through
The broken ripple, and replies
With sparkling speech of lips and eyes
To souls who seek and still pursue.
Give me the streams, that counterfeit
The twilight of autumnal skies;
The shadowy, silent waters, lit
With fire like a woman's eyes!
Slow waters that, in autumn, glass
The scarlet-strewn and golden grass,
And drink the sunset's tawny dyes.
Give me the pools, that lie among
The centuried forests! give me those,
Deep, dim, and sad as darkness hung
Beneath the sunset's somber rose:
Still pools, in whose vague mirrors look-
Like ragged gypsies round a book
Of magic-trees in wild repose.
No quiet thing, or innocent,
Of water, earth, or air shall please
My soul now: but the violent
Between the sunset and the trees:
The fierce, the splendid, and intense,
That love matures in innocence,
Like mighty music, give me these!
When thorn-tree copses still were bare
And black along the turbid brook;
When catkined willows blurred and shook
Great tawny tangles in the air;
In bottomlands, the first thaw makes
An oozy bog, beneath the trees,
Prophetic of the spring that wakes,
Sang the sonorous hylodes.
Now that wild winds have stripped the thorn,
And clogged with leaves the forest-creek;
Now that the woods look blown and bleak,
And webs are frosty white at morn;
At night beneath the spectral sky,
A far foreboding cry I hear—
The wild fowl calling as they fly?
Or wild voice of the dying Year?
And still my soul holds phantom tryst,
When chestnuts hiss among the coals,
Upon the Evening of All Souls,
When all the night is moon and mist,
And all the world is mystery;
I kiss dear lips that death hath kissed,
And gaze in eyes no man may see,
Filled with a love long lost to me.
I hear the night-wind's ghostly glove
Flutter the window: then the knob
Of some dark door turn, with a sob
As when love comes to gaze on love
Who lies pale-coffined in a room:
And then the iron gallop of
The storm, who rides outside; his plume
Sweeping the night with dread and gloom.
So fancy takes the mind, and paints
The darkness with eidolon light,
And writes the dead's romance in night
On the dim Evening of All Saints:
Unheard the hissing nuts; the clink
And fall of coals, whose shadow faints
Around the hearts that sit and think,
Borne far beyond the actual's brink.
I heard the wind, before the morn
Stretched gaunt, gray fingers 'thwart my pane,
Drive clouds down, a dark dragon-train;
Its iron visor closed, a horn
Of steel from out the north it wound.-
No morn like yesterday's! whose mouth,
A cool carnation, from the south
Breathed through a golden reed the sound
Of days that drop clear gold upon
Cerulean silver floors of dawn.
And all of yesterday is lost
And swallowed in to-day's wild light-
The birth deformed of day and night,
The illegitimate, who cost
Its mother secret tears and sighs;
Unlovely since unloved; and chilled
With sorrows and the shame that filled
Its parents' love; which was not wise
In passion as the day and night
That married yestermorn with light.
Down through the dark, indignant trees,
On indistinguishable wings
Of storm, the wind of evening swings;
Before its insane anger flees
Distracted leaf and shattered bough:
There is a rushing as when seas
Of thunder beat an iron prow
On reefs of wrath and roaring wreck:
'Mid stormy leaves, a hurrying speck
Of flickering blackness, driven by,
A mad bat whirls along the sky.
Like some sad shadow, in the eve's
As by some strange and twilight spell-
A gaunt girl stands among the leaves,
The night-wind in her dolorous dress:
Symbolic of the life that grieves,
Of toil that patience makes not less,
Her load of fagots fallen there.-
A wilder shadow sweeps the air,
And she is gone…. Was it the dumb
Eidolon of the month to come?
The song birds-are they flown away?
The song birds of the summer time,
That sang their souls into the day,
And set the laughing hours to rhyme.
No catbird scatters through the bush
The sparkling crystals of its song;
Within the woods no hermit-thrush
Thridding with vocal gold the hush.
All day the crows fly cawing past:
The acorns drop: the forests scowl:
At night I hear the bitter blast
Hoot with the hooting of the owl.
The wild creeks freeze: the ways are strewn
With leaves that clog: beneath the tree
The bird, that set its toil to tune,
And made a home for melody,
Lies dead beneath the snow-white moon.
In Solitary Places
The hurl and hurry of the winds of March,
That tore the ash and bowed the pine and larch,
Are past and done with: winds, that trampled through
The forests with enormous, scythe-like sweep,
And from the darkening deep,
The battlements of heaven, thunder-blue,
Rumbled the arch,
The rocking arch of all the booming oaks,
With stormy chariot-spokes;
Chariots from which wild bugle-blasts they blew,
Their warrior challenge.. . Now the wind flower sweet
Misses the fury of their ruining feet,
The trumpet-thunder of resistless flight,
Crashing and vast, obliterating light;
Sweeping the skeleton cohorts down
Of last year's leaves; and, overhead,
Hurrying the giant foliage of night,
Gaunt clouds that streamed with tempest. Now each crown
Of woods that stooped to clamor of their tread,
The frenzy of their passage, stoops no more,
Hearing no more their clarion-command,
Their chariot-hurl and the wild whip in hand.
No more, no more,
The forests rock and roar
And tumult with their shoutings.. . Hushed and still
Is the green-gleaming and the sunlit hill,
Along whose sides,
Flushing the dewy moss and rainy grass
Beneath the topaz-tinted sassafras,
As aromatic as some orient wine
The violet fire of the bluet glides,
The amaranthine flame
Glints of the bluebell; and the celandine,
Line upon lovely line,
Deliberate goldens into birth;
And, ruby and rose, the moccasin-flower hides:
Innumerable blooms, with which she writes her name,
April, upon the page,
The winter-withered parchment of old Earth,
Her fragrant autograph that gives it worth
And loveliness that takes away its age.
Here where the woods are wet,
The blossoms of the dog's-tooth violet
Seem meteors in a miniature firmament
Of wildflowers, where, with rainy sound and scent
Of breeze and blossom, soft the April went:
Their tongue-like leaves of umber-mottled green,
So thickly seen,
Seem dropping words of gold,
The visible syllables of a magic old.
Beside them, near the wahoo-bush and haw,
Blooms the hepatica;
Its slender flowers upon swaying stems
Lifting pale, solitary blooms,
Starry, and twilight-colored, like frail gems,
That star the diadems
Of sylvan spirits, piercing pale the glooms;
Or like the wands, the torches of the fays,
That light lone, woodland ways
With slim, uncertain rays:
(The faery people, whom no eye may see,
Busy, so legend says,
With budding bough and leafing tree,
The blossom's heart o' honey and honey-sack o' the bee,
And all dim thoughts and dreams,
That take the form of flowers, as it seems,
And haunt the banks of greenwood streams,
Showing in every line and curve,
Commensurate with our love, and intimacy,
A smiling confidence or sweet reserve.)
There at that leafy turn
Of trailered rocks, rise fronds of hart's-tongue fern:
Fronds that my fancy names
Of feathering emerald and gold,
That, kindled in the musky mould,
Now, stealthily as the morn, unfold
Their cool green fires that burn
Uneagerly, and spread around
An elfin light above the ground,
Like that green glow
A spirit, lamped with crystal, makes below
In dripping caves of labyrinthine moss.
And in the underwoods, around them, toss
The white-hearts with their penciled leaves,
That 'mid the shifting gleams and glooms,
The interchanging shine and shade,
Seem some vague garment made
By unseen hands that weave, that none perceives;
Pale hands that work invisible looms,
Now dropping shreds of light,
Now shadow-shreds, that interbraid
And form faint colors mixed with frail perfumes.
Or, are they fragments left in flight,
These flowers that scatter every glade
With windy, beckoning white,
And breezy blowing blue,
Of her wild gown that shone upon my sight,
A moment, in the woods I wandered through?
April's, whom still I follow,
Whom still my dreams pursue;
Who leads me on by many a tangled clue
Of loveliness, until, in some green hollow,
Born of her fragrance and her melody,
But lovelier than herself and happier, too,
Cradled in blossoms of the dogwood-tree,
My soul shall see
White as a sunbeam in the heart of day
The infant, May.
Up, up, my Heart, and forth, where none perceives!
'T was this that that sweet lay meant
You heard in dreams.
Come, let us take rich payment,
For every care that grieves,
From Nature's prodigal purse.'T was this that May meant
By sending forth that wind which 'round our eaves
Whispered all night. Or was 't the Spirit who weaves,
From gold and glaucous green of early leaves,
Spring's radiant raiment?
Up, up, my Heart, and forth, where none perceives!
Come, let us forth, my Heart, where none divines!
Into far woodland places,
Where we may meet the fair, assembled races,
Beneath the guardian pines,
Of God's first flowers: poppy-celandines,
And wake-robins and bugled columbines,
With which her hair, her heavenly hair she twines,
And loops and laces.
Come let us forth, my Heart, where none divines!
Forth, forth, my Heart, and let us find our dreams,
There where they haunt each hollow!
Dreams, luring us with Oread feet to follow,
With flying feet of beams,
Fleeter and lighter than the soaring swallow:
Dreams, holding us with Dryad glooms and gleams;
With Naiad looks, far stiller than still streams,
That have beheld and still reflect, it seems,
The God Apollo.
Forth, forth, my Heart, and let us find our dreams!
Out, out my Heart! the world is white with spring.
Long have our dreams been pleaders:
Now let them be our firm but gentle leaders.
Come, let us forth and sing
Among the amber-emerald-tufted cedars,
And balm-o'-Gileads, cottonwoods, a-swing
Like giant censers, that from leaf-cusps fling
Balsams of gummy gold, bewildering
The winds their feeders.
Out, out, my Heart! the world is white with spring.
Up, up, my Heart, and all thy hope put on!
Array thyself in splendor!
Like some bright dragonfly, some May-fly slender,
The irised lamels don
Of thy new armor; and, where burns the centre,
Refulgent, of the widening rose of dawn,
Spread thy wild wings! and, ere the hour be gone,
Bright as a blast from some bold clarion,
Thy Dream-world enter!
Up, up, my heart, and all thy hope put on!
And then I heard it singing,
The wind that kissed my hair,
A song of wild expression,
A song that called in session
The wildflowers there up-springing,
The wildflowers lightly flinging
Their tresses to the air.
And first the bloodroot-blooms of March
In troops arose; each with its torch
Of hollow snow, within which, bright,
The calyx grottoed golden light.
Hepatica and bluet,
And gold corydalis.
Rose, swaying to the aria;
While phlox and dim dentaria
In rapture, ere they knew it,
Oped, nodding lightly to it,
Faint as a first star is.
And then a music, to the ear
Inaudible, I seemed to hear;
A symphony that seemed to rise
And speak in colors to the eyes.
I saw the Jacob's-Ladder
Ring violet peal on peal
Of perfume, azure-swinging;
The bluebell slimly ringing
Its purple chimes; and gladder,
Green note on note, the madder
Bells of the Solomon's-seal.
Now far away; now near; now lost,
I saw their fragrant music tossed,
Mixed dimly with white interludes
Of trilliums starring cool the woods.
Then choral, solitary,
I saw the celandine
Smite bright its golden cymbals;
The starwort shake its timbrels;
The whiteheart's horns of Faery,
With many a flourish airy,
Strike silvery into line.
And straight my soul they seemed to draw,
By chords of loveliness and awe,
Into a Faery World afar,
Where all man's dreams and longings are.
Then the face of a spirit looked down at me
Out of the deeps of the opal morn:
Its eyes were blue as a sunlit sea,
And young with the joy of a star that has just been born:
And I seemed to hear, with my soul, the rose of its cool mouth say:
'Long I lay; long I lay,
Low on the Hills of the Break-of-Day,
Where ever the light is green and gray,
And the gleam of the moon is a silvery spray,
And the stars are glimmering bubbles:
Now from the Hills of the Break-of-Day.
I come, I come, on a rainbow ray,
To laugh and sparkle, to leap and play,
And blow from the face of the world away,
Like mists, its cares and troubles.'
And now that the dawn is everywhere
Let us take this road through this wild green place,
Where the rattlesnake-weed shows its yellow face,
And the lichens cover the rocks with lace:
Where tannin-touched is the wild free air,
Let us take this path through the oaks where thin
The low leaves whisper, 'The day is fair, '
And waters murmur, 'Come in, come in!
Where the wind of our foam can play with your hair
And blow away care.'
Berry blossoms that seem to flow
As the winds blow;
Blackberry blossoms swing and sway
To and fro
Along our way,
Like ocean spray on a breezy day,
Over the green of the grass as foam on the green of a bay
When the world is white and green with the white and the green of May.
And here the bluets blooming
Make little eyes at you;
O'er which the bees go booming,
Drunk with the honey-dew.
O slender Quaker-ladies,
O star-bright Quaker-ladies,
With eyes of heavenly blue,
With eyes of azure hue,
Who, where the mossy shade is,
Hold quiet Quaker-meeting,
Are these your serenaders?
Your gold-hipped serenaders,
Who, humming love-songs true,
And to your eyes repeating
Soft ballads, stop to woo?
Then change to ambuscaders,
To gold galloonéd raiders,
And rob the hearts of you,
The golden hearts of you.
And here the bells of the huckleberries toss, so it seems, in time,
Delicate, tenderly white, clumped by the wildwood way,
Swinging, it seems, inaudible peals of a dew clustered rhyme,
Visible music, dropped from the virginal lips of the May,
Crystally dropped, so it seems, blossoming bar upon bar,
Pendent, pensively pale, star upon hollowed star.
The dewberries are blooming now;
The days are long, the nights are short:
Each dogwood and each black-haw bough
Is bleached with bloom, and seems a part,
Reflected palely on her brow,
Of dreams that haunt the Year's young heart.
But this will pass; and instantly
The world forget the spring that was;
And underneath the wild-plum tree,
'Mid hornet hum and wild-bee's buzz,
Summer, in dreamy reverie,
Will sit, all warm and amorous.
Summer, with drowsy eyes and hair,
Who walks the orchard aisles between;
Whose hot touch tans the freckled pear,
And crimsons peach and nectarine;
And in the vineyard everywhere
Bubbles with blue the grape's ripe green.
Where now the briers blossoming are
Soon will the berries darkly glow;
Then summer pass: and, star on star,
Where now the grass is strewn below
With blossoms, soon, both near and far,
Will lie th' obliterating snow.
The star-flower, now that discs with gold
The woodland moss, the forest grass,
Already in a day is old,
Already doth its beauty pass;
Soon, undistinguished, with the mould
'T will mingle and will mix, alas!
The bluet, too, that spreads its skies,
Diminutive heavens, at our feet;
And crowfoot-bloom, that, with orbed eyes
Of amber, now our eyes doth greet,
Shall fade and pass, and none surmise
How once they made the Maytime sweet.
But still the crowfoot trails its gold
Along the edges of the oak wood old;
And still, where spreads the water, white are seen
The lilies islanded between
The pads 'round archipelagoes of green;
The jade-dark pads that pave
The water's wrinkled wave,
In which the warbler and the sparrow lave
Their fluttered breasts and wings;
Preening their backs, with many twitterings,
With necks the moisture streaks;
Then dipping deep their beaks,
To which some bead of liquid coolness clings,
As bending back their mellow throats
They let the freshness trickle into notes.
And now you hear
The red-capped woodpecker rap close and clear;
And now that acrobat,
The yellow-breasted chat,
Chuckles his grotesque music from
Some tree that he hath clomb.
And now, and now,
Upon a locust bough,
Hark how the honey-throated thrush
Scatters the forest's emerald hush
With notes of golden harmony,
Taking the woods with witchery
Or is 't some spirit none may see,
Hid in the top of yonder tree,
Who, in his house of leaves, of haunted green,
Keeps trying, silver-sweet, his sunbeam flute serene?
Again the spirit looked down at me
Out of the sunset's ruin of gold;
Its eyes were dark as a moonless sea,
And grave with the grief of a star that with sorrow is old:
And I seemed to hear, with my soul, the flame of its sad mouth sigh:
'Now good-by! now good-by!
Down to the Caves of the Night go I:
Where a shadowy couch of the purple sky,
That the moon- and the starlight curtain high,
Is spread for my joy and sorrow:
Down to the Caves of the Night go I,
Where side by side in mystery
With all the Yesterdays I'll lie;
And where, from my body, before I die,
Will be born the young To-morrow.'
And now that the dusk draws down you see,
Tipped by the weight of a passing bee,
The milkwort's spike of blue,
Of lavender hue,
Nod like a goblin night-cap, slim, sedate,
That night shall tassel with the dew,
Beneath its canopy of flowering rue.
And now, as twilight's purple state
Deepens the oaks' dark vistas through,
The owlet's cry of'Who, oh, who,
Who walks so late?'
Drifts like a challenge down to you.
Or there on the twig of the oak-tree tall,
The gray-green egg in the gray-green gall,
You, too, might hear if you, too, would try,
Might hear it open; all tinily
Split, and the little round worm and white,
That grows to a gnat in a summer night,
Uncurl in its nest as it dreams of flight:
In the heart of the weed that grows near by,
The little gray worm that becomes a fly,
A green wood-fly, a rainbowed fly,
You, too, might hear if you, too, would try,
As a leaf-bud pushes from forth a tree,
Minute of movement, steadily,
As it feels a yearning for wings begin,
Under the milk of its larval skin
The silent pressure of wings within.
The west grows ashen, the woods grow berylwan;
The redbird lifts its plaintive vesper-song,
Where faint a fox or rabbit steals along:
And in some vine-roofed hollow, far withdrawn,
The creek-frog sounds his deeply guttural gong,
As dusk comes on:
The water's gnarléd dwarf or gnome,
Seated upon his temple's oozy dome,
Calling the faithful unto prayer,
Muezzin-like, the worshippers of the moon,
The insect-folk of earth and air
That join him in his twilight tune.
Along the path where the lizard hides,
An instant shadow the spider glides,
The hairy spider that haunts the way,
Crouching black by its earth-bored hole,
An insect-ogre, that lairs with the mole,
Hungry, seeking its insect prey,
Fast to follow and swift to slay.
And over your hands and over your face
The cobweb brushes its phantom lace:
And now from many a stealthy place,
Woolly-winged and gossamer-gray,
The woodland moths come fluttering,
Marked and mottled with lichen hues,
Seal-soft umbers and downy blues,
Dark as the bark to which they cling.
Now in the hollow of a hill,
Like a glow-worm held in a giant hand,
Under the sunset's last red band,
And one star hued like a daffodil,
The windowed lamp of a cabin glows,
The charcoal-burner's, whose hut is poor,
But ever open; beside whose door
An oak grows gnarled and a pine stands slim.
Clean of heart and of feature grim,
Here he houses where no one knows,
His only neighbors the cawing crows
That make a roost of the pine's top limb;
His only friend the fiddle he bows
As he sits at his door in the eve's repose,
Making it chuckle and sing and speak,
Lovingly pressed to his swarthy cheek.
And over many a root, through ferns and weeds,
Past lonely places where the raccoon breeds,
By many a rock and water lying dim,
Roofed with the brier and the bramble-rose,
Under a star and the new-moon's rim,
Downward the wood-way leads to him,
Down where the lone lamp gleams and glows,
A pencil slim
Of marigold light'under leaf and limb.
Ere that small sisterhood of misty-stars,
The Pleiades, consents to grace the sky;
While yet through sunset's tiger-tawny bars
The evening-star shines downward like an eye,
A torch, Enchantment, in her topaz tower
Of twilight, kindles at the Day's last hour,
Listen, and you may hear, now low, now high,
A voice, a spirit, dreamier than a flower.
There is a fellowship so still and sweet,
A brotherhood, that speaks, unwordable,
In every tree, in every flower you meet,
The soul is fain to sit beneath its spell.
And heart-admitted to their presence there,
Those intimacies of the earth and air,
It shall hear words, too wonderful to tell,
Too deep to interpret, of unspoken prayer.
And you may see the things no eyes have seen,
And hear the things no ears have ever heard;
The Murmur of the Woods, in gray and green,
Will lean to you, its soul a whispered word;
Or by your side, in hushed and solemn wise,
The Silence sit; and, clothed in glimmering dyes
Of pearl and purple, herding bee and bird,
The Dusk steal by you with her shadowy eyes.
Then through the Ugliness that toils in night,
Uncouth, obscure, that hates the glare of day,
The things that pierce the earth and know no light,
And hide themselves in clamminess and clay,
The dumb, ungainly things, that make a home
Of mud and mire they hill and honeycomb,
Through these, perhaps, in some mysterious way,
Beauty may speak fairer than wind-blown foam.
Not as it speaks, an eagle message, drawn
From starry vastness of night's labyrinths:
Not uttering itself from out the dawn
In egret hues; nor from the cloud-built plinths
Of sunset's splendor, speaking burningly
Unto the spirit; nor all flowery
From cygnet-colored cymes of hyacinths,
But from the things that type humility.
From things despised: even from the crawfish there,
Hollowing its house of ooze a wet, vague sound
Of sleepy slime; or from the mole, whose lair,
Blind-tunnelled, corridores the earth around,
Beauty may draw her truths, as draws its wings
The butterfly from the dull worm that clings,
Cocoon and chrysalis; and from the ground
Address the soul through even senseless things.
For oft my soul hath heard the trees' huge roots
Fumble the darkness, clutching at the soil;
Hath heard the green beaks of th' imprisoned shoots
Peck at the boughs from which the leaves uncoil;
Hath heard the buried germ soft split its pod,
Groping its blind way up to light and God;
The mushroom, laboring with gnome-like toil,
Heave slow its white orb through the encircling sod.
The winds and waters, stars and streams and flowers,
The earth and rocks, each moss-tuft and each fern,
The very lichens speak. This world of ours
Is eloquent with things that bid us learn
To pierce appearances, and so to mark,
Within the stone and underneath the bark,
Heard through some inward sense, the dreams that turn
Outward to light and beauty from the dark.
I stood alone in a mountain place,
And it came to pass, as I gazed on space,
That I met with Mystery, face to face.
Within her eyes my wondering soul beheld
The eons past, the eons yet to come,
At cosmic labor; and the stars, that swelled,
Fiery or nebulous, from the darkness dumb,
In each appointed place and period,
I saw were words, whose hieroglyphic sum
Blazoned one word, the mystic name of God.
I walked alone 'mid the forest's maze,
And it came to pass, as I went my ways,
That I met with Beauty, face to face.
Within her eyes my worshipping spirit saw
The moments busy with the dreams whence spring
Earth's loveliness: and all fair things that awe
Man's soul with their perfection everything
That buds and bourgeons, blossoming above,
I saw were letters of enduring Law
That bloomed one word, the beautiful name of Love.